The arts of business and brewing seldom run in tandem. When I first saw the business credit card that said Viking Braggot Co., I looked up at co-founder Dan McTavish inquisitively; we were at the register at Falling Sky brew shop. “Viking Braggot Company, eh?” I asked. Honestly, the word “braggot” had only crossed my path in the previous few years when I read Randy Mosher’s Radical Brewing. And here were these college kids starting a brewery dedicated to the concept.
The guys were part of the “Brew of O,” a short-lived University sponsored homebrew club. They, like most homebrewers, had converted the garage of their rental house into more than just party central, and wound up funneling many of its active members into the beer industry. As the members graduated, the club fizzled out, and Viking Braggot Co. rose from the ashes.
The brewery and tasting room opened up in 2013 in West Eugene, tucked back in an industrial park. The brewery is a 3.5-barrel system that sits on a single tier, like a large homebrew setup (don’t think for a second that “homebrew” means bad!). Viking uses honey as roughly 15-30% of its fermentable sugar, which is not the traditional braggot method, which blends mead and beer at a roughly equal ratio. However, the honey has a distinct impact on the flavor and aroma of Viking’s braggots, and has earned them a strong local following.
They established a core lineup of blonde, red, IPA, and stout, along with perennial favorites like Winter Squash Porter, infamously home-roasted and samurai chopped by the original brewer Weston Zaludek. Weston is a madman and brewery slut, having stinted at Oregon Trail, Viking, and Claim 52 simultaneously for several months; nobody knows if he slept during that time. At Viking, he started a small barrel-aging program, and before he left for a few years at a brew-farm-commune in North Dakota released an impressive braggot-style Flanders red ale.
Owners Dan McTavish and Addison Stearn opened Viking Braggot – Southtowne in 2018. The location, on Willamette headed towards South Eugene, is primo, and offers up a pizza-themed menu, as well as weekend brunch. It’s a great outlet for Viking’s product, and will introduce many to the style and the fact that honey isn’t scary or gross (which is an opinion I’ve encountered far too many times in my experience), but is in fact tasty and complex and can be used in really cool ways.